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Sheriff: No mass release planned at Harris County Jail

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez addressed Thursday a rumor circulating of a planned mass release of inmates at the county jail. He put it plainly: it is not happening.

However, the Harris County Sheriff's Office does report that the inmate population is smaller since the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

"Before the #COVID-19 pandemic, our avg. daily jail population was around 9,100. Today's (population) is about 8,500. This is because arrests among all local agencies are slightly down, while releases are slightly up," he wrote in a tweet.

The Harris County Jail is monitoring the temperatures of inmates.

The general public will also be subject to temperature testing at the District Court complex in downtown Houston. The temperature limit for people is below 100.4 degrees.

Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen has outfitted his deputies with protective gear and insists that prisoners in patrol cars be transported with masks on.

Rosen also said local agencies are generally arresting fewer low-level crime suspects on the spot. That does not mean that the suspects are not charged. Instead, fewer are immediately arrested, mostly to keep the jail population at a smaller count.

"It's not like we're not charging people, because we are," Rosen said.

Rosen also made it clear that the level of service his organization provides to the public has not changed or been diminished.

“We are here to protect the community,” Rosen said.